Writing on check
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With online bill payment and mobile wallets on the rise, consumers are relying less on paper checks. Consumers who still write checks are likely shocked when it’s time to reorder. A box of checks with duplicates ordered through a bank can cost $35 or more.

Fortunately, it’s OK to search the web for cheaper checks (and cooler designs) — as long as you take some basic precautions.

Best deals on checks are not at banks

A quick survey of online prices for standard blue checks finds that you can save big by ordering through a third-party printer.

Single checks
Company Number of checks in box Cost, 2 boxes Cost per check
Sam’s Club 240 $11.20 $0.023
Costco 246 $14.48 $0.029
Walmart 150 $12.92 $0.043
Checks.com 125 $11.90 $0.047
Promise Checks 125 $13.90 $0.055
Vistaprint 150 $25.00 $0.083
Checks Unlimited 125 $29.98 $0.119
Checks in the Mail 125 $29.98 $0.119
Chase Bank (provided by Deluxe) 100 $37.90 $0.189
Duplicate checks
Company Number of checks in box Cost, 2 boxes Cost per check
Sam’s Club 180 $11.96 $0.033
Costco 174 $14.71 $0.042
Walmart 150 $14.92 $0.049
Checks.com 100 $13.90 $0.069
Vistaprint 150 $27.50 $0.091
Promise Checks 100 $19.90 $0.099
Chase Bank (provided by Deluxe) 300 $75.50 $0.125
Checks Unlimited 100 $35.98 $0.179
Checks in the Mail 100 $35.98 $0.179

Prices retrieved online Jan. 25, 2018

The cheapest provider we could find was Sam’s Club. The Walmart-owned buying club sells single checks for about 2 cents each, far less than the price you’ll pay ordering them through Chase Banks’s check-reordering vendor.

Of course, price isn’t everything; you don’t want to give your checking account information to a sketchy, fly-by-night operation. If you’ve never heard of the site you’re thinking of ordering from, check on them via a Better Business Bureau search before you give up any sensitive information.

The safe places to shop

If going outside your bank to get checks makes you nervous, keep in mind that banks typically don’t print checks. They send them to a third-party printer, such as Deluxe or Harland Clarke, so all you’re really doing is cutting out a middleman.

 

Enhanced Check Security Features Padlock IconOne easy way to tell whether you’re ordering checks from a reputable company whose products meet basic security standards is to look for a little padlock icon on the right side of their checks under the “amount” box. If it’s there, you know the check and the company itself have been vetted by the Check Payment Systems Association.

“The padlock icon is a way of letting people who are handling checks know that the checks that are in their possession have at least a minimum number of security features that would protect against alteration of a check and duplication of a check,” says Steven Antolick, CPSA executive director.

You can find a list of all CPSA authorized printers on the organization’s website.

Everything you need to place a check order

If you decide to take the plunge, everything you need to order new checks online can be found on one of your old checks (or a temporary check, if it’s a new account).

  • Your checking account number.
  • Your bank’s routing number, which you can also find on the bank’s website.
  • The check number on your last check, so you know which number your new checks should start with.
  • In some states, the date you opened the account.

Infographic: Different parts of a check

You’ll also want to double-check your order before making it final. While printers typically verify your account details with the bank before printing, checks with the wrong account information on them aren’t very useful.

Security the most important feature

If you’re going to spend more than the bare minimum on a check, it should be on check-safety features, says Magnus Carlsson, manager for treasury and payments at the Association for Financial Professionals.

“Checks are the payment method with the most fraud,” Carlsson says. “So anything you can do to have more security is a big thing.”

Top-of-the-line security features such as additional hard-to-copy microprint, hologram foil, heat sensors and hard-to-duplicate watermarks can double the cost of checks.

The cost of added check security is probably more manageable for consumers, who write checks occasionally, than it is for businesses that write thousands or even millions of checks per year. Compare your costs with the potential fallout from fraud, Carlsson says.

Checks can look cool, too

Another benefit of going outside your bank for checks is you might find a larger selection of colors and styles. In fact, you can find checks online with almost any image or theme you can imagine, from fine art to college sports teams to cats doing yoga.

If you can’t find a particular design, you can always make your own. Many check printers give customers the option of using their own designs or photographs as a background.

You may also find an opportunity to do a little good with your check order. Many charitable associations, such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation, raise money by putting their names and logos on checks. Expect to pay several dollars more for two boxes of fancier checks incorporating special designs.